T.D. Clark is back with his brilliant, daring take on the prequel to Carpenter’s master work. When you’re done reading, if you want a decidedly different take on THE THING (2011), check out Phil’s review and his open letter to Glieberman.
After holding out for as long as possible, I finally caved and watched THE THING 2011. Yes, I am one of those people who consider John Carpenter’s THE THING as the cat’s pajamas; a game-changing classic that will remain on “best of” lists for decades to come. And yes, as much as I would like to write off the 2011 version as a train wreck like most of you have, I can’t. It’s a solid, entertaining companion to Carpenter’s creation.
So without further ado, I will break down why I like the 2011 version using a few of its heated and hated attributes to make my point.
Is it a prequel, sequel or remake?
It’s so painfully obvious to me that THE THING 2011 is a prequel. Why there was so much confusion about this is beyond me. I enjoyed every single wink-wink moment and I didn’t feel the need to feign confusion over the plot specifics just so I could jump on the hate train. And seriously folks, there are plenty of new wrinkles here that perfectly complement, support and expand Carpenter’s version. Are you really that offended that some scenes and situations were aped in THE THING 2011? Lighten up, they were designed to be a celebration, not a mockery.
Too much CGI
I don’t actively seek out movies that use a lot of CGI. But I also don’t go out of my way to bash them if the CGI is done well. Many of you have bashed THE THING 2011 as being some sort of CGI-run-amok monstrosity of the highest order and that’s just not the case. Yes, there were a few iffy CGI moments in THE THING 2011 but I didn’t let it spoil the fun. Overall, there’s a solid mix of practical and CGI effects that I thought worked very well together. Do you really believe that in this day and age, a legend like Rob Bottin wouldn’t be tempted to use a little CGI magic to smooth over the edges of his masterworks?
Characters we don’t care about
Since I wasn’t expecting anyone to fill the shoes of Kurt Russell , Wilford Brimley, or Keith David, I found all of the characters and performances of THE THING 2011 to be perfectly serviceable and enjoyable. Did they lack the charm of Carpenter’s cast? Absolutely. But again, we’re not talking amateur hour here either – far from it. If you really want to see Kurt Russell’s “MacReady” squint like Eastwood and chew the scenery with Keith David’s freaked out “Childs”, guess what? There’s a Blu-ray for that (see below).
At the end of the day, the thing that really bothers me about THE THING 2011 is the message “fans” sent to Hollywood. Blinded by our righteous zeal to protect the sanctity of John Carpenter’s THE THING, we prevented a perfectly entertaining, nicely-budgeted horror film – one that honors and expands upon Carpenter’s classic - from becoming successful.